Do you know Amy Reverdy, of the wonderful blog C’est La Me? If not,  prepare to be wooed. This sweet expat from California charms with her self-deprecating, I’m-too-west-coast-to-take-myself-seriously tales of adapting to life with the Frenchies. In this post she shares her mouth-watering Context food tour in Saint Germain with fellow HIP Paris contributor and fabulous Parisian foodie, Meg Zimbeck.

The Inside Scoop (Photo by Little Brown Pen)

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to live like a Parisian? Unless you’re prepared to travel with a dog or take up smoking, I think the easiest and most enjoyable way to experience la belle vie while visiting France is by shopping and eating.

I’ve been living in Paris for five years now. While I’d like to pretend that I spend my days strolling along selecting cheeses and chocolates from small shops, I’d be exaggerating. Sometimes I’m forced to go to the supermarket due to time constraints, hours of operation, or the simple fact that I need to buy toilet paper.

On the weekend, however, I really do try to frequent the farmer’s market and small shops in my quartier. Little by little, you start to develop a relationship with the vendors and they remember you. With my accent, it usually doesn’t take all that long.  My second visit to the produce shop on rue Mouffetard, I was greeted with “Bonjour, Miss California.” I’m still smiling. And a few weeks later, after I’d paid for all my fruits and vegetables, I realized that I’d forgotten a lime. When I told him it was for my vodka tonic, he placed it in my hand with a wink and refused my money.

Caramel pastry from La Patisserie des Rêves (Edwardkimuk)

Living like a Parisian is not always perfect, but it certainly can be if you go about it the right way. The beauty of being on vacation is that you can choose what you’d like to do with your time and plan accordingly. For example, I recently took part in Context Travel’s “Baguette to Bistro: Culinary Traditions of Paris” walking seminar. I’m often asked by friends and friends of friends for travel tips so I thought it would be a good experience and one I could recommend if I enjoyed myself, which I did – immensely!

The tour started at 10:00 a.m. I met my docent, Meg Zimbeck, in front of a café where rue du Bac hits the Seine. I was pleased to find that there were only three other participants joining us that day. It was immediately obvious that this was not going to be an ordinary tour. There would be no red umbrella to follow, no “bus leaves in 10 minutes” shouted through the end of a bullhorn, and no herding, corralling or waiting in long lines at the souvenir shop.

After introductions and a little small talk, the official tour began. Meg offered us some interesting historical information about the 7th arrondissement, the setting for our tasting tour, and we were off!

Delicious Parisian baguettes… (Roboppy;Jlaceda)

Picture yourself walking down a narrow street lined with boutiques and shops then popping into la boulangerie to buy some freshly baked bread.

After that, you visit la fromagerie across the street to taste a few cheeses that you selected with the aid of a master. You’ll need something to spread all over the crusty baguette you just bought – although it really is so delicious you could eat it solo.

Goat cheese on a baguette – the perfect snack (Chiot’s Run)

You’re back on the tiny sidewalk again, but seeing all those delicious pastries at the boulangerie has awoken your sweet tooth You could return to the boulangerie to pick up a pain aux raisins, but why look back when straight ahead there is a shop specifically dedicated to sweet things: la pâtisserie! You go inside and peruse the decadent offerings and have one boxed up for later.

After admiring creations that so closely resemble artwork they are kept under glass, you cannot be expected to wait until “later” to get your sugar fix so you take une petite pause at your local chocolatier for some instant gratification.

Who can resist a stop at the chocolaterie Chapon ? (Everjean;Roboppy)

Ooh là là! It’s already half past noon, but you have one last stop. La cave, of course.  You enter and admire the beautiful bottles of fine Bordeaux wines, while doing so the lovely caviste offers you a sampling of an hors d’age Armagnac which you gladly accept.  I guess it really is good to be French!

There were three things that I particularly enjoyed about the tour.  The first, and probably the most obvious, was getting to learn about the products and having the opportunity to taste them on the spot and ask follow-up questions about ingredients, the process, etc.  Secondly, I liked that our group was small which meant there was enough time to stray off topic and discuss questions about culture, customs, and favorite restaurants (which is why I would recommend taking the tour early in your trip so you’ll have time to put this wealth of knowledge to work).  Finally, going back to the relationship aspect I mentioned above, Meg (or Context Travel docents, in general) has a relationship with the shop owners/employees because she is a regular customer.  Thus, as her “visitor” you get a real French shopping experience.

If you’d like to do some “window shopping” or as the French call it “window licking” (lèche-vitrine, because they just can’t keep their tongues in their mouths), to hold you over til your trip to Paris, here are the places we visited:

La Maison Kayser
La Pâtisserie des Rêves
Chapon Chocolatier

And, of course:
Context Travel’s “Baguette to Bistro: Culinary Traditions of Paris”
Duration: 2.5 hours (minimum, my tour went over)
Price: €70, plus €10 tasting fee

Related Links:

Written by Amy Reverdy. Top image by Little Brown Pen. Looking for a fabulous vacation rental in Paris, Provence, or Tuscany? Check out Haven in Paris.


Amy Reverdy

Amy was born in Los Angeles, raised in Orange County, and educated in San Francisco. A true California girl, she never imagined living any place else until she met her prince charming, a frog who lured her away with promises of all the cheese and wine she could eat and drink. Amy has found that life in Paris truly is like a fairy tale. She writes about her experiences on her blog “C’est la me.”


  1. Thank you, Amy and Lily! Amy, how exciting you’re coming to Paris. I haven’t taken the Belly of Paris tour yet, but based on Lily’s comment it sounds great too. If you want a “slice of French life” experience and tips on buying bread and selecting cheeses, I would go with the Baguette to Bistro tour. If you’re a fan of Emile Zola and Parisian history, as well as food – then perhaps the Belly of Paris one. Bon voyage!

  2. What a savory description of the walk Amy! You’ll make most readers hungry just reading it!
    To answer reader Amy’s question The Baguette to Bistro is a great introduction to some quintessential French specialities, and the discussion can revolve around many topics, the Belly of Paris walk is food lovers also interested in gastronomy and explores the Les Halles area where the former market was and the setting of Emile Zola’s book, the Belly of Paris.

  3. Love I check it everyday!

    I leave for Paris in 2 weeks and was inspired by your tour, as I can only afford 1 tour…would you stay this on is the best Food Tour Context gives???? I cant decide.

    Thank you again for a website that makes you feel like your in Paris, even when your not!

  4. Thank you for the very nice comments! I’m glad you enjoyed the post. I certainly had a fun time taking the tour and writing about it.

  5. How wonderful…. gorgeous images!! I want to go so badly!

    Also, I have a Great New Giveaway from Blydesign! Come and enter!

    Art by Karena

  6. Your post brought me right back to my recent trip to Paris … and instantly had me aching to go back. Happy window licking! 😉

  7. Oh my gosh, do I miss Paris!

    How envious I am of this sentence: “I’ve been living in Paris for five years now.”

    Then, to look at all these gorgeous pictures and remember what it was like to be there….le sigh!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *